Alibaba Breaks Records with Singles’ Day
Within only the first 17 hours of China’s “Singles’ Day” shopping event, online-retail giant Alibaba had already smashed sales records, ultimately improving on last year’s sales figures by a whopping 62%.
Singles’ Day is an annual online shopping event based in China, held on November 11 every year. The day was originally created by students at Nanjing University who wanted a sort of anti-Valentine’s Day where people could celebrate their single-ness and buy things for themselves. The date – 11/11 – is even thought to have been chosen for its four single ones.
Alibaba then adopted Singles’ Day in 2009 in a bid to boost sales. Which is exactly what it did, because, since then, the event has gone on to become one of – if not the – biggest 24-hour online sales in the world. It even rivals Cyber Monday, held the Monday after Thanksgiving in the US and the online equivalent of Black Friday.
Last year’s Singles’ Day saw Alibaba bringing in record sales of $5.75 billion (£3.65 billion) and shipping more than 150 million packages. But before this year’s sale even took off, the company said it was expecting to break records, helping this along by offering huge discounts to customers.
It also didn’t hurt that advertising for the event began at the beginning of October, and customers were able to place deposits for their items, securing them for the full payment on the actual day.
Jack Ma, Founder and Executive Chairperson of Alibaba, estimated that around 200 million packages would be sent out just for orders made on the day. “I bet the number [of goods bought] is going to be scary!” he added.
And he was right.
Only 18 minutes into the day and the company had already made the equivalent of its first billion dollars. After the first hour, $2 billion (£1.3 billion) of goods had already been sold.
Seventeen hours in, the firm had hit $6.96 billion (£4.5 billion), wiping the record and leaving industry experts predicting that sales could surpass $8 billion (£5.1 billion) this year.
And surpass it, it did, reaching an astounding $9.3 billion (£5.9 billion).
This year’s event attracted the participation of global brands numbering in their tens of thousands, reaching shoppers in more than 200 countries.
“Lots of clients from the brands side have for the first time approached Singles’ Day as an event of its own,” said Shaun Rein from Shanghai’s China Market Research (CMR). He explained that these clients have now earmarked Singles’ Day as a significant retail operation, on par with the Chinese New Year and Christmas.
Alibaba are obviously doing something right, and we can only wait and see what they do to break sales records for next year… and they have 12 months to work on it.